Just a snapshot from my work this week.
With thesis submission day rapidly approaching (next Thursday – finally!), I’m just putting the finishing touches on my network visualisations. Obviously the real thing is higher quality – this is just a screenshot – but what you’re looking at are two things: a) the way in which 135 Perth-based food bloggers network their identities online, and b) the way that Perth food bloggers link to each other via blog rolls. (Tracking the comments on blogs would have been more useful, but I have run out of time to do it.)
I’ve also got overlays that show the links between their Twitter & Facebook pages, as well as how they all fit together.
The text is very small, but basically I use a coded system to designate each individual (for example, if my blog was in there it would be ‘bw’ – beyond words – and then my linked Facebook page would be ‘bw.fb’, and my Twitter profile ‘bw.tw’, and my Urbanspoon profile ‘bw.us’ and so on). I’ve done this for a number of reasons; partly, it was to keep the labels for each node short, so that they didn’t take over the graph, but also to add a degree of anonymity to my results (rather than saying Blogger X links to pages w, y, z), which allowed me a degree more freedom with my study (i.e. not having to get signed permission forms from everyone on the list).
None of my research in any way discusses content on any particular blog; everyone whose work is directly featured in my thesis (such as quotes from blog posts) has granted permission for me to use that information. Everyone else is just a dot, and a link.
Blogs are represented by black dots; aqua represents Facebook; blue is Twitter, etc. I found that bloggers link to sixteen different social platforms (including social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, social recommendation sites, and social curation sites) from their blogs (in order from most popular to least): Urbanspoon, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Google+, YouTube, Foodgawker, LinkedIn, Posse, Yelp, Last.fm, Tastespotting, Tumblr (blogs that were hosted at Tumblr didn’t count towards this; if they did, Tumblr would come just after Google+, but I counted them as blogs for the sake of consistency), and Vimeo.
I haven’t included platforms like BlogLovin’ on here. I was going to, but in the end was having such problems with it at the time of data collection that I left it out. I’ve also undoubtedly missed some platforms. I used a site called IssueCrawler to get the initial links from blogs. Basically, I uploaded a list of URLs (i.e. all the blog URLs), and the returned results consisted of a spreadsheet with every URL linked from the blog’s main page. I checked everything manually a few times, as the IssueCrawler results weren’t perfect (some blogs appeared to have no links outwards, which proved to be incorrect based upon my double-checking).
I also checked everything a few times to make sure that I had the most accurate sample possible. A major challenge came in the form of collecting the sample group. Not all blogs h
One thing that I am hoping to do in the future if I have time is to create a dynamic visualisation of posts, which will plot the occurrence of blog posts across a period of time (back to about 2004, as I think that’s when the earliest post from this group was made) corresponding to the restaurant/cafe/location they blogged about, placed over a map of Perth. I’m not sure how I will treat home-cooking/recipe posts, but these could possibly be plotted as well, although not to a location (maybe by theme or primary ingredient).
Blogs are somewhat of a passe subject these days, but I’m quite fascinated by how the medium has persisted. We have all these other ways to communicate, as the social platform links attest (for instance, 51% of the group has a linked Urbanspoon profile, 49.5% a Twitter accounts, and 47.5% a Facebook page dedicated to their blog). However, blogs offer the opportunity for longer-form expression that few other platforms allow at this stage. (Newer platforms like Medium are changing that as they straddle the boundary between blog space, collaborative environment, and SNS.)
Because I’m specifically looking at Perth, these links just serve to demonstrate how closely knit the Perth food blogging community is (and, by extension, how close other online communities are). My research focuses on the ways that place identity can be encountered and expressed via locative and location data, so the crown in the jewel of my research is a much bigger map that looks at how Perth bloggers and social media users have talked about Eat, Drink, Perth over the past four years.
The decision to research that particular festival wasn’t entirely arbitrary; there are important, undeniable links between food, geography, identity, and community that are vital to my research, so EDP has been a useful vehicle for exploring local networks in more detail. I’m still working on finalising that visualisation. However, it’s taking a loonnnng time. I’ve collected the geographic coordinates for every EDP event from 2010-2013, as well as (I think?) every online news article, tweet, and blog post about EDP. (Probably not all; there are limitations. For instance, I have no access to private data, such as protected tweets, nor did I want access to them for this project as I am only looking at information that is publicly available. In addition, EDP/Show Me Perth remove content from their website and Facebook page every year before launching the new event. The Wayback Machine was somewhat helpful, but there’s no doubt I’ve missed stuff.)
All that information is being plotted on an incredibly complicated network visualisation that I will share here once it’s done. The graph corresponds to the geodata I’ve collected; for instance, all posts about the Butcher’s Picnic link to the node for that event, which is located (on the map and IRL) in Northbridge Piazza. There are also different levels of links for comments, trackbacks, and different colours utilised to represent different years of the festival. Fun!
a basic example of how the main network visualisation is structured — bright green: event location (geolocated on a map). teal: events held at that location during one edp year (in this case, three; this is just a dummy example, there may be more/less in a given year). purple — blog posts about specific events. red: bloggers (the actual blogs). if you look closely here, this network depicts ‘blogger a’ as having written both of the blog posts (purple nodes); ‘blogger b’ was linked to in the mad hatter’s tea party post (there’s a tiny arrow pointing out from that node to the ‘blogger b’ node). imagine this, hundreds of posts over, for four years…
It actually is very fun. It’s just super frustrating and time consuming getting the data to appear in a way that is logical and informative, rather than just being a splash of colour on the screen that isn’t really any good for telling a story.
I’m thinking once I’m done with everything and have a spare moment, I’ll publish a list of Perth food blogs/Facebook pages/Twitter profiles on here, in case anyone is interested. I’ll also have high-resolution versions of my visualisations available too.
Here, have a picture I made.
I was trying to get Gephi to make Seadragon-worthy versions network visualisations (news flash: it won’t for some reason) and thought I’d play with something less…subjective? My patience for my thesis data is hanging by a thread at the moment so I didn’t want to mess around with it too much.
Instead, pulled Australia’s population data from Google’s Public Database and mapped it by state…however I suspect something is up, as it doesn’t seem right that Queensland has all the big cities (I also don’t think it’s right that 1.06 million people live in the Brisbane local government area, but I may be wrong). Ah well. It was nice to look at something other than my regular ol’ network.
Sixteen days to go.
In 384 hours I will probably be an hour or two away from waking up, driving to uni, and letting go of my thesis. It’s a terrifying prospect, and explains why I am awake still at 4:24 in the morning… not that that’s terribly unusual these days. The “nights” (hah – nights are for study!) I go to bed when the sun is already up are far outnumbering those in darkness.
I’m ready for it emotionally. I can’t wait to let the damn thing go. It has been my constant companion for far too long, and the relationship that I have with my thesis is difficult. If we were dating, we’d definitely have our Facebook relationship status set to It’s Complicated. Of course, “we” aren’t dating because there is no “we”; my thesis is a 300 page document that lives in my computer, in my head, and all over my living room floor. (Seriously, it’s quite distressing how much paper I have gone through editing this thing. Editing on the screen is just too difficult at this stage. I am definitely going to have to plant a few trees, or an entire forest, to make up for this one.)
It’s so much more than an inanimate object, though. One of the peculiar things about researching identity, and particularly narrative identity, is that I find a lot of parallels between my research and my own life. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what this project has meant to me. Over the past five years and ten months, it has been something I so looked forward to, then something that intimidated the hell out of me, then something I loved, then something that caused me an incredible amount of emotional anguish for a very long time, then something I left, then something I returned to with fresh eyes and unexpected enthusiasm. That was in July last year. At the time, I thought I didn’t have that much to do in order to finish.
I had all the things to do. I had written a lot before I took a year’s hiatus in 2011/2012, and most of it turned out to be unusable in its original state. It’s perfectly normal, I know, and indeed expected, that a PhD student’s work will undergo considerable change from first draft to final product. It has to; why bother doing a PhD if you go into it with a perfect grasp of what you hope to achieve? Many of the concepts and theories that have become the foundation of my thesis didn’t even exist in my work pre-2011. It took taking a year off, and allowing myself the opportunity to climb out of my own head, to realise what’s important to me, what I’m passionate about.
Predictably, this has made for an incredible amount of work over the past 16 months. I have essentially written my entire thesis, and researched probably 60% of it, in that time. At the same time I’ve worked anywhere between one and three jobs, because working 70+ hours a week on a thesis doesn’t actually pay the bills. (It did once upon a time, but my scholarship is loooong gone.) My mind boggles a little when I hear about people completing their dissertation within the allotted three year period. How? How do you do it? I don’t want to be presumptuous and claim that only those without jobs can do such a thing. I know there are people who are more efficient workers than I am, and others that went into doing a PhD with a more structured plan.
My research evolved organically. I read my thesis proposal recently – not my candidacy application, but the proposal I wrote when I first applied to study a PhD at Curtin – and, wow. It’s quite funny, actually, as my research took a massive detour from its origin for a very long time before returning to a somewhat similar area, although with a completely different focus. I was going to research online visual representations of bodies, initially (an extension of my Honours research); I’ve ended up studying embodiment as the essential condition for identity manifestation, but in the context of locative media, urbanity & place, and narrative constructions of self. I’m happy with this; I would’ve tired of my original topic, and over the past couple of years I’ve discovered a love for geography, mobility, and locative media. By letting my research do its thing and evolve naturally over time, I’ve managed to discover an element of my identity that I had no idea existed. Life copies art copies life.
So. Sixteen days to go. Sixteen days to let go. It’s not going to be easy; I could keep working on this forever, but I don’t want to. I can’t. I’m a chronic perfectionist; I could work on it forever and still never be happy with it. In sixteen days, I let go.
I know the correct answer (“bear”), but I have always felt as though:
bare with me = let’s get naked together.
bear with me = let’s dress up as bears together.
Dear English language, please have more words so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
a. iPad, upon which I have too many books & articles to read. I try to read article/book-type things on there exclusively so I don’t clutter up my desktop and get distracted by going on unnecessary research journeys (it’s much more cumbersome on a tablet than a desktop) but it doesn’t really work out that way.
b. Lamp. The front half of my house (which includes all the bedrooms, one of the bathrooms, and the kitchen) currently has no lights, so I’m relying on lamps. There’s a standing lamp off to the right of me too, and it’s bloody hot and bloody annoying but the alternative is sitting in near-darkness, and that’s just too depressing. (The RE agent said they’d send out an electrician on Wednesday. They did not.)
c. Thesis. I’m using Scrivener, and it’s amazing.
d. Wikipedia. Do not even begin to judge. I’ve found myself needing to include a few bits & pieces about capitalism and globalisation in this chapter I’m almost-done editing. I’m not ashamed to admit that at this point – 12 years into a university education – I still turn to Wikipedia every single time that I need an overview of a concept. It’s never the last place I look, but almost always the first. Sue me.
e. Notepad for remembering Important Things. (Almost everything written on here ends up being forgotten about/written over/lost/never actioned.)
f. Mug. I am getting so sick of coffee.
g. Gel eyedrops. When I bought these, in a 30 pack or something, I thought I’d never, ever, ever reach the end of the box. There are three tubes left.
h. Pen. I’m really particular about writing implements. They have to be drawing pen-style, with a felt or plastic nib or whatever it is (like those on Artline pens) – never ballpoint or *shudder* gel. Gross. (I have pen cups full of pens, but currently I’m using Stabilo point 88. They’re not ideal – I prefer a 0.1mm nib and these are 0.4 – but they come in 30 colours, so that’s good. Can you believe I just wrote so much about a pen?)
i. Thesaurus. Doubles as a mousepad, because the shiny surface of my desk doesn’t allow for mouse-usage. Babow.
j. Headband for wild hair taming. I pretty much never use it because it’s a children’s headband and therefore fairly tight on my head… but it’s there just in case.
k. Post-it notes. I hate paper post-its. These are paper. I don’t know why they’re there. My research is almost entirely paperless these days.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve kept returning to this post in times of immense thesis-induced frustration and/or hopelessness. Selected parts:
By the time I have handed in my PhD thesis, I will have worked on it for years. I will have written at least twice as many words as those precious ones that make up the final document. I will have suffered innumerable bouts of self-doubt. I will have endured days of thesis guilt…
And when it is all done, when it is all finally over, unless I subject myself to further edits and alterations, NOBODY WILL EVER READ IT.
I will have spent years of my life writing what is essentially, a book that nobody will ever even be given the opportunity to read.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the desire to make sure that your thesis is amazing… what I have to remember is that it doesn’t need to change the world, it just needs to be good enough.
[originally seen on socphd]
It’s been a while since my last Late Night Study Tunes post. I’m sure I’ve been listening to something… I just can’t remember what.
(There’s been a lot of Korn, to be honest. Too much.)
This week I am tired. I’m always tired, I know; I post about tiredness a lot, because guess what? I am. All the time. This week it’s particularly brutal: it’s the kind of tiredness you don’t just feel in your head and eyes, but throughout your whole body. My bones hurt. Twice this week, I’ve been so tired that I couldn’t sleep, which has to be the mind and body’s ultimate fuck you.
Case in point: Tuesday. Tuesday I had to lecture. I love giving lectures. My tutorials are 90 minutes long, so a 45 minute lecture is, by comparison, easy. There’s also not a huge opportunity for crowd interaction, so I don’t have to worry about coming up with interesting questions (or, conversely, about what to do when people don’t feel like answering my questions!). I just put together some fun visuals, stand there, and do my thing.
Only problem is that when you have barely slept, it’s incredibly difficult. Monday night was stormy and noisy; I tossed and turned all night and managed maybe 90 minutes of sleep before giving in at 5am and getting out of bed. Who needs rest, right? I barely remember what happened in the lecture. It was a small crowd, owing to the truly terrible weather (Perth, you’re outdoing yourself at the moment), but there could have been 10,000 people there… or none. It was so difficult to focus. I have no idea what I said, and I’m sure I missed so many important points. At the end, my unit coordinator told me it was interesting that I’d linked up a point from this week’s topic with the guest lecture last week… and I had no idea that I’d done so. I couldn’t remember making that point.
Every teacher has bad classes or bad weeks. The classes themselves aren’t inherently bad: it’s got nothing to due with the students, and everything to do with where your head is at. This week, my head hasn’t been there, try as I may. It’s got nothing to do with lack of preparation or lack of care, either. I am so prepared for classes. I love teaching this subject. I want every single class to be fun and enlightening and memorable… for the right reasons. Not because I can’t get the technology to work, and not because I’m so exhausted that my brain is in shutdown mode.
I left the lecture on Tuesday desperate for a glass of wine and a dose of Roy Orbison.
I’m housesitting for my folks this week. Roy Orbison should’ve been easy to get. My dad’s music collection is huge.
I checked the vinyl collection: No Roy O. Hmm.
I checked the CD collection: Not in alphabetical order. Hmmmm. I wasn’t going to spend all day searching through unordered CDs.
I resorted to piracy. This is what my father makes me do. It was mostly guilt-free piracy, as I am positive that Dad’s paid for Roy Orbison music before. But still. Not ideal.
Roy Orbison, and particularly this song, will forever remind me of being a tiny child. I love it. The music and wine didn’t quite have the calming effect I’d hoped for, unfortunately – I barely slept on Tuesday night and was still brain-dead going into class yesterday afternoon – but it did the job on another level. Isn’t his voice just magnificent? (Yes. The answer is yes.)
Now, because I’m a walking contradiction, I’m going to listen to The Herd for the next hour and pretend that my voice is as magnificent as Jane Tyrrell’s. (It’s not. My dog actually got up and walked away from me when I was singing her verses yesterday.)
I feel as though I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.
[[M.A.C. Cosmetics at New York Fashion Week, via Facebook]]
Just. Stop. Hating.
I feel like this goes without saying. Right? But apparently it doesn’t, because it just keeps happening. (I’m not saying everyone should listen to me, but surely, as a society, we’ve managed to advance to the point where we understand that people have different bodies. Right?)
Listen to this song for a moment, and then return here to read my rant:
Here’s the thing:
When you comment on another person’s body just because it doesn’t meet your standards for beauty, you are doing something incredibly unkind.
When you shame someone for being too skinny, too fat, too muscly, too different to how you feel all people should look, you’re being a massive dick.
When you get on Facebook and call people anorexic, disgusting, foul, ugly, or otherwise (particularly women; I’m not saying that people don’t shame male bodies, but it seems to be much more prevalent a practice when women’s bodies are involved), you look like a bigoted piece of shit.
I’m not just talking about fat bodies.
I’m talking about all kinds of bodies. There is a disturbing trend of increasingly nasty body shaming happening online. I read a good little article the other day about Reddit, in which the author compares the relative anonymity of that space to the total “nonymity” of Facebook.
Reddit works on a system of up and down votes. Basically, in most cases, people will vote your opinion off the page if what you’re saying is boring/narrow minded/excessively controversial. (No doubt there are certainly exceptions to this rule, and with sub-Reddits existing for every topic imaginable, there are spaces within that site where body shaming is not only allowed, but encouraged; that’s not what I’m referring to here, as I’m assuming that decent human beings don’t frequent these pages. Reddit is also far from a perfect system.)
It’s also relatively anonymous, in that users tend to adopt usernames, a la pre-social-web days.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a space in which people tend to use their real name, for the most part. They make connections in one of two ways: by Friending people they already know offline, or by Liking pages set up by businesses, organisations, institutions, and communities. The vast majority of the other people whom also Like said page will be people that one doesn’t personally know; they will not be a part of one’s pre-existing social group.
Yet, for whatever reason, people are fucking jerks on Facebook.
They seem to think it’s okay to comment on advertisements, news articles, and posts, and say whatever the hell they like about the subject - especially when it features a body that displeases them, with complete disregard for who might be reading and what such comments might say about them as a person. And, boy oh boy, do people love to body-shame on Facebook.
Let me say this: It is never, ever okay to hate someone’s body (and, by extension, the person themselves) because it doesn’t look like what you think it should look like – whether that means it’s the “wrong” size, disabled, too old or young, a different colour to yours, or exhibits sex and gender traits that you don’t personally understand.
This rant has been sparked by a Facebook comment thread I saw this morning. I know, I know, stop feeding the trolls/consuming others’ ignorance. I feel like I’m on the verge of wanting desperately to quit Facebook, but I won’t because a) it’s a great way to keep in contact with my students, and b) I’m about to leave the country for a very long time, and god knows people don’t check their emails nearly enough these days.
The comments were on a gallery posted by M.A.C. cosmetics. I follow M.A.C. because oh my gosh, you guys – have you seen their eyeshadow range? Amazing.
[[My favourite part of the discussion on this page was all the comments on how the makeup wasn't appropriate for everyday wear ORLY? Funny that, at a fashion show. Le sigh. This image unashamedly thieved from M.A.C.'s Facebook gallery of New York Fashion Week.]]
Anyway, the gallery featured catwalk models wearing M.A.C. makeup. Some of them were pretty slim; the others, you could only see their face, but they didn’t look “unusual” in any way; they just looked like young women in makeup. The photos were taken at New York Fashion Week – i.e. one of the biggest fashion events on the planet. Let’s make a list of what we know about models, shall we?
- They are usually very slim. There has been a marked trend in recent years towards showcasing other kinds of bodies, but that’s a discussion for another day.
- There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about not using exceedingly underweight young women in fashion campaigns.
- Slim models are chosen because they are, effectively, walking coat hangers. (I detest this idea and feel horrible even writing it, because these women are much more than coat hangers, but that’s how the industry currently works.) The clothes hang off them and sway as the model walks. The fabric, not the model, is the star of the show.
- The modelling and fashion industries are, unfortunately, historically replete with drug abuse and eating disorders.
- Many of them are very young and have not yet fully developed bodies. (This is fact. Although females tend to mature young compared to males, many do not develop so-called “womanly” shapes until they are in their 20s. I had boobs from about 11 years of age, but didn’t have shapely hips until around 21.)
So we know all this. And yet, people still feel the need to hate on other women. To wit:
- “Honestly all these girls looks sick. They need to eat.”
- “Y do all ur modelz look like they have a drug problem ? Wherez the real pretty healthy women at?. Just sayin.”
- “Mac makeup is fab, but really these models are way to thin, they look ill and there is no life behind their eyes – maybe it is drugs or just not enough food. They are not good role models, so why do companies insist on using these type of people rather than ‘ normal’ looking people. Shame on the world of fashion.”
I’m going to stop right there for a second - not good role models?????
Since when are fashion models role models? What the actual f? Here’s a crazy idea: If you have a son or daughter, how about encouraging them to look for role models that do more than walk down a runway in expensive clothing? I do not mean to demean the work of the fashion industry here, but seriously… how about encouraging your child to admire and aspire to the work of scientists, doctors, teachers? How about being a good role model for your child, rather than expecting the fashion industry to do it? Absolutely ridiculous. I continue:
- “Not for nothing, the makeup is gorgeous but these models look anorexic!’ That’s not beauty”
- “Love M.A.C but models are extremely thin!!! I dont like it at all!”
- “These women look disgusting.”
No, commenter. You are “disgusting”, but it has nothing to do with your looks. Shame on you, you piece of shit.
I’m not a follower of fashion, but I do keep an eye on it and discussions about fashion because I am incredibly interested in the place of the body, so this thread doesn’t come as a surprise at all, but it upsets me nonetheless. Why does anyone believe it is their right to say horrible things about another person – especially people they don’t know? You can’t assume anything by looking at these photographs. To call a woman “anorexic” because she is skinny is just mindboggling incorrect. One of my best friends is 5’10″, weighs 58kg (about 120lb), runs half marathons, and eats like it’s the reason she was put on this earth. I’ve been friends with her for 17 years, and she’s been tall and slim the entire time. Yet, these commenters, without even knowing her, would probably call her anorexic.
Do people even know what anorexia is? Do they understand that it’s not a controllable disease of vanity or of disgust with seeing fat bodies? That nobody has anorexia because they think they’re better than others, or more successful at remaining thin?
Putting it another way, would those who are quick to bitch out models for being “anorexic” be just as quick to bitch out someone for being bipolar, or having multiple sclerosis, or having cancer? Or is it just easy to hate on anorexia because it concerns the body – the part we can easily see – and that body is in public space, getting all up in your face and offending your sensibilities?
Somewhere along the line, it became really quite acceptable to hate slim bodies, in a way that not acceptable when it comes to fat bodies. People still do hate fat bodies, but it’s almost more institutionalised, more ingrained in society; it’s just accepted that fat is disgusting. We’re not quite at that point with slim yet, because it’s still very socially acceptable to love slim bodies. Because of that, people have no qualms about hating on them publicly – like their opinion is, in some way, doing everyone a favour, by pointing out the unbearable thinness of being.
This has gone on for a very long time, so I’m going to wrap it up, but not before sharing something with you that I read on Twitter yesterday. Meghan Tonjes is one of my most favourite ladies on the Internet. She is absolutely freaking awesome. She’s all over YouTube and Twitter and Tumblr so I highly encourage you to get on board, because she comes up with gems like this:
When you praise or insult a woman's body, every woman in your life around you takes that and internalizes it as a standard you hold for them—
Meghan Tonjes (@meghantonjes) September 16, 2013
Never has a truer word been spoken. When you praise or insult a woman’s body, every woman around you – whether it’s your girlfriend, friends, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin, acquaintances, or strangers on Facebook - takes that and internalizes it as a standard you hold for them.
Please. Stop body shaming, stop body hate.